Rohit Sharma’s first reaction to Hardik Pandya’s incessant booing, signals Wankhede to ‘calm down’ during MI vs RR match | Cricket


It’s hard to be Hardik Pandya. Now more than ever. His team is losing, and he’s certainly not gaining any fans around the world. In fact, the sound of booing in the direction of Mumbai Indians the captain only grows wherever he goes. After being booed in Ahmedabad and then in Hyderabad, it was Hardik’s turn to face the heat from his home crowd – the Wankhede crowd – as MI played their first home match of the IPL2024 against Rajasthan Royals. Hardik’s return on Monday was marred not only by a comprehensive defeat against the Royals, but also by the hostility of the very vocal crowd, who didn’t miss a single opportunity to let Pandya know what they thought from him.

Rohit Sharma’s classy gesture for Hardik Pandya. (Screenshot)

While MI and Hardik do everything they can to win over the crowd, it doesn’t happen. The franchise is yet to officially respond to the fans’ reaction towards Hardik, but towards the end of last night’s match, Rohit Sharma did his little bit to control the situation. Fielding near the boundary with RR only needing another handful of runs, Rohit used his hands to use the ‘calm down’ gesture, and while that didn’t change the mind crowd, it is nevertheless a start.

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It was here that Hardik began his IPL career in 2015 before going on to become one of India’s greatest all-rounders of all time. Nine years later, no one, including Hardik himself, could have imagined such a welcome. Before the start of play, as Rohit batted, the crowd went wild, but just as Hardik appeared on the big screen for the toss, the cheers turned into voracious boos. This time it was so strong that Hardik, who until now had managed to keep his emotions under control, couldn’t help but show a sheepish smile. And then a little more when Sanjay Manjrekar, officiating the toss, asked the crowd to ‘Behave’.

If you thought the emotional roller coaster ended there, hold on to that thought. It lasted four hours. After RR elected to field, the ecstasy of watching MI bat quickly turned to despair as the home side were reduced to 20/4. With three batters in Rohit, Naman Dhir and Dewald Brevis dismissed for golden ducks, Hardik got out. For those present, it was the first time that the emotions linked to the performance of a team prevailed over those of an individual. As Hardik strode out, there was still absolute silence, but once he started going online, mixed reactions ensued.

When Hardik’s hitting game left the crowd confused

Hardik hit six boundaries during his 34 runs off 21 balls and although each of these hits drew cheers from the crowd, they were restricted. It was almost as if the crowd was confused. A little later, Hardik’s dismissal made the situation worse for MI, but made the situation easier for MI supporters as their minds had become clearer. The Wankhede crowd can be very unforgiving. Hell, if the great Sachin Tendulkar, after giving 18 years of his life, was not spared in 2006, and Virat Kohli got the same treatment in IPL 2013, what chance did Hardik have? Yet, all the time, Hardik put on a brave face and wore a smile.

And all this… without it being his fault. Hardik got a promotion and he accepted it. Yes, MI’s failure to address the removal of Rohit Sharma as captain – a stark contrast to the way Chennai Super Kings handled the entire transition phase between MS Dhoni and Ruturaj Gaikwad – could have been avoid. But here’s a guy who’s just trying to do what the franchise wants him to do. As per the April 2 points table, MI are yet to open the account with three consecutive defeats, and as the team is scheduled to play their next three matches at the Wankhede, don’t expect these reactions to change much until for Hardik himself to reach the level. rise to the challenge and deliver a winning performance.

That MI are the only team to have not won a match so far, the lack of heat from the crowd is a given – it would have lessened if the results had been different – but in order to change the narrative, captain Hardik must taking responsibility to break free from the shackles and produce a show for the ages.

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